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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Concert review flashback: Not exactly a ‘KISS good night’ in Spokane

KISS poses for a 1982 publicity shot. (PolyGram Records)

August 12, 1977

KISS. Their acronym might mean “Keep in Simple, Stupid,” because that’s exactly what they do.

The only thing hidden or complex about the noise-rock band is their make-up. The rest is as straightforward and simple as a punch in the mouth.

In the tradition of American television, a sold-out crowd of more than 8,000 teenagers was treated to an overdose of sex, violence and action at the Coliseum Thursday night. KISS is visual. The choreography is precise, and the stunts are well planned, which apparently leaves no time to practice music.

Each song sounds like the last, which sounds like the Saturday night rumble of dozens of mufflers on Riverside. It is probably the first band ever to benefit from Coliseum’s barn-like acoustics.

But like Alice Cooper before them, KISS did put on a show. Those four vaudevillians, dressed as a prehistoric bird, a cat, a spaceman and a rock star, belched fire, burned guitars and performed assorted gyrations and leaps to the crowd’s pleasure. To add to this, their backdrop was an array of runner lights that blinked as wildly as the set of “Hollywood Squares” “when a player gets three in a row.

However, through all this the group was unable to generate the Brazilian soccer-style frenzy reported on previous tours. Perhaps the audience was somewhat subdued by the stifling heat which neared 100 degrees on the Coliseum floor, or perhaps Spokane is not a KISS town. Most likely it was the overblown publicity given the group’s antics, which made the show pretty predictable.

Nevertheless, a relatively well-behaved crowd, some dressed as KISS characters including grease paint, dashes of glitter and glow-in-the-dark choker necklaces the hawkers were selling in the stands, seemed to be satisfied that they got their $7 worth.

Overshadowed the electric scenery was the back-up group, Cheap Trick, an up-and-thundering hard rock band. The group out-shocked KISS by their sheer understatement. With a drummer who looks like a GU law student, complete with short-cropped hair, necktie and wire-rimmed glasses, and a guitarist who wears a baseball cap, a two-sizes-too-small sweater and “slacks,” coupled with two other members who look like our run of the mill rock stars, the group is a truly strange assemblage.

And they can play, with a sound fondly reminiscent of early Who.